Thursday, 29 November 2018 12:04

Good health needs to be worked on

Written by  Mark Daniel
Got the work-life balance right? That’s part of the mix. Tools are also available to help manage things like staff rostering. And help is available if you need to reach out. Got the work-life balance right? That’s part of the mix. Tools are also available to help manage things like staff rostering. And help is available if you need to reach out.

Rural life, and agriculture is driven by changing seasons that dictate on-farm tasks and operations and busy times can mean pressure on owners or employees.

The pressure of a high workload over an extended period can create illness or fatigue, often in the form of the “silent killers” such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.

While you wouldn’t baulk at making informed decisions about stock, pastures or crops, it’s sometimes too easy to forget about making good decisions about the overall management of your staff and indeed your own time to keep things on an even keel.

Tired pastures lead to a dip in production, so get “fixed” with renovation or replacement. In much the same vein, staff and family also need rest, good nutrition and some form of recreation to perform at their best too. People working at their optimum make for a more productive business, better levels of morale and ultimately an improvement to the bottom line.

Looking at the broader picture, research suggests that many sheep and beef farmers face a greater risk of accidents over summer, with longer days coupled with family commitments leading to potential fatigue Likewise, during those busy times, meals are typically eaten “on the run” at irregular times, or long periods are spent sat on tractor seats, in the same position, with no other exercise.

As the Work/Life balance swings in the wrong direction, particularly if the financial situation is tight, some owners or workers can easily feel overwhelmed, a situation that gets compounded, particularly if they are unwell or overtired.

So, what can we do to make sure we don’t get sucked into this downward vortex, both for our own health and that of our employees? If you are an employer, use available resources like the DairyNZ website to get information on the basics like good rostering. 

From a personal standpoint, forward plan to make sure you get a few days away from the farm. 

Whether it’s a game of golf or some fishing with a few mates, or even a meal, a show and a night away with the “other half”- it’s a great way to give the battery a recharge.

If you are feeling unwell, or indeed overwhelmed, reach out and seek some help.

That might be a chat with a spouse, a neighbour who understands the pressures you’re facing, or your GP. 

Reaching out doesn’t me you’ve failed or you’re a bit of a “softie” – it means you’re responsible in realising that your health or that of your staff is paramount.

After all, stress and fatigue lead to poor decisions and irrational though processes, that leads to increased costs to the business, missed opportunities, risk of injuries, or ultimately fatalities. What would you do if key members of your workforce fell ill or left because they felt worn out, or how would the farm operate, and your family cope without you?

Investment in your own and your staff’s welfare has no downsides, only the benefits of greater well-being, better morale and the ability to overcome the challenges that life throws at us.

More like this


Rain eases drought worries

Farmers on the lower east coast of the North Island have welcomed heavy rains, which have fallen in the last week.


New chair for Ballance

Former Fonterra Shareholder Council chairman Duncan Coull has been elected as the new chair for Fertiliser co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Flying high

This old mutt would like to know how the sanctimonious Green Party and its MPs can continue to lecture everyone…

Put it down

Your canine crusader notes that the woke folk at Landcorp – sorry Pāmu – were recently crowing about recording a…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Popular Reads

Rules driving farmers out

New farming rules around sustainability are driving elderly farmers out of the dairy industry, says agri-economist Phil Journeaux.